Free as a bird - Heimler and Proc
August 4 - 26
Where does modern humanity fit in with the natural world? We are more and more an urban culture
and to many the natural environment of mountains and forests are only infrequently visited. In this series
Heimler and Proc reflect on our relationship with nature. Human figures are stripped of their protective
garments and pose naked in the bush, together with fauna as it is most loved by New Zealanders,
our native birds. The figures sometimes look comfortable in their surroundings, sometimes less so.
We are asked to see ourselves as part of the animal world and to think about how humans today relate
and connect themselves to the natural world.
The Regional News interviewed Gabriel Heimler and Anna Pro, here is the full text
How many of your works feature Free as a Bird and when were they created?
8 works. We started to work on them in November last year.
As an artistic duo, what is your process for collaborating together? What role does each of you play
Our long-standing collaboration allows us to intensify and dynamize our creations. We work first on a sketch on the paper that we transfer onto a canvas. We offer a mutual critique of each sketch and modify it before painting. We decided to work together in order to express and combine artistically the female and male values in our creation. An unintended but welcomed consequence of our collaboration is to offer a model of reconciliation for the gender issue.
I see you complete one new exhibition each year, aside from your murals and other commissions. Do you intentionally make each one different than the last? What initially inspired you to focus on nature and humanity for this one?
Yes, we intentionally focus on a different subject based on our ongoing exploration of Aotearoa's cultural and esthetic identity, ecological diversity, and its uniqueness in the global context. Sometimes one subject serves as an inspiration for another series. Last year The Hedge series explored isolation, limitation, and self-protection due to COVID. This year, Free as a bird embodies, in contrast, our wish to reconquer freedom and reaching peace and harmony between man and nature. This is achieved when we humans learn to respect to other life forms as well as one another.
While the everyday humans in your works are portrayed naked in their natural state, you also feature modern pop-culture icons like Jaoquin Phoenix’s Joker. What does this juxtaposition represent?
Everyday humans in our work exist in friendship with their environment, side by side with New Zealand birds as they would ideally in Eden. It would be a perfect place for Joker to grow up. This juxtaposition represents a modern-day individual transplanted into some kind of lost paradise.
While the paintings are each one completed images, many are composed in a diptych style. What inspired this stylistic choice?
Metaphorically, our shared individuality exists in the gap between the two paintings of a diptych. This gap represents our personal limits, our individual borders; and yet, at the same time the gap connects us. In sum, our art is a reflection of our quest to gain a deeper understanding of our individual as well as shared (male & female) selves.
What are you trying to say about the human condition (and its relationship with the natural world) with these works?
We raise the question of humankind's current place in the natural world, especially of those who spend a majority of their days in front of a computer. We illuminate the disconnection with the natural world as humans created their own world.